Willamette and PNCA

PNCA (Portland)

Portland campus, Pacific NW College of Art

The PNCA campus in Portland offers an urban experience with downtown Portland at your back door for a unique and creative living experience.

Summer/Fall 2021  The PNCA merge with Willamette University mean some big changes in how some of the "background" things work.  For information about the PNCA campus, start at this site. Use the (yellow) FAQ link to learn how the merger will change some services at PNCA.

Willamette University (Salem) Compass Card

Your Willamette ID card, also called the Compass Card, helps you do many things on campus.

If you lose your card, CALL the University Service Center 503-370-6911 to report it missing right away! They will deactivate it and you can get a replacement.

If your card does not work right, take it to the University Service Center for help. They are located in the University Services Building, behind the law school on Ferry Street. Call for hours or go to the website for updated business hours.

Below are some quick points but we recommend you check the Compass Card FAQs for more details and lists about where and how you can use your card.

Meal Plan: Your Compass Card contains your meal plan information. Use your card to eat and to use your meal Flex dollars. All meals not used and all Flex dollars are non-refundable. Basically, you need to use them up before the end of the year. Read the Food FAQ for details about how this works.

Compass Cash: For any extra food you want to purchase, you can load money onto your Compass Card and use your card for snacks, extra meals, etc. You get a 10% discount when you use Compass Cash for food. See below about adding money. You can use Compass Cash for many other things on campus too.

Buy things on campus: After you add Compass Cash, you can use the card to buy food and snacks from the vending machines in the residence halls; on-campus residents can use the laundry facilities; photocopying at Hatfield Library, Atkinson, Print & Design Center in the University Services Building, and the Law School; pay for purchases at the Bistro, the Mail Center, and the Willamette Store.

Adding funds to your Compass Card Money can only be added online/app. There is no option to add money "in-person". Website: https://willamette.edu/offices/compass card/index.html

  • add the Get mobile app (IOS or Android) to manage your Compass Cash
  • add funds via a direct link with a credit card
For help: Visit or call the University Service Center

Building Access: Use your Compass Card to get into your own residence hall- but not other residence halls. When buildings are locked, your Compass Card will access some other buildings. Some are 24-hour access, others will have limited hours via card. This can change depending on whether classes are in session or other factors. Some examples are: University Center, Ford, Smullin, Eaton Halls and computer labs in those buildings; Sparks Fitness Center; and the Hatfield Library study room (affectionately known as the Fish Bowl). AGSM students can access AGSM and law students can access the Law School. Check your school for your access hours. Faculty or staff may give you access to buildings after hours for class or work.

E-mail Accounts

You will activate your Willamette email account (create new network account) before you arrive on campus. Use this link for information about WU's campus Wifi networks and how to access them. You can use public access computers in the Hatfield Library and in campus computer labs.

If you have any problems with figuring out how to open your account, you can contact WITS or ask a computer lab assistant: email or phone 503-370-6767. If they cannot help you they will send you to somebody who can.

For everyone - WU & PNCA

Oregon State ID

It is recommended that you get an Oregon State ID if you will be at WU longer than a year then you won't need to carry your passport around and risk losing it. Banks, landlords, healthcare providers, etc. often ask for identification. Oregonians and other U.S. residents typically use a driver's license. The same agency issues ID cards and driver's licenses and the ID card is valid identification.

You can get an Oregon ID at the Driver & Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Go online FIRST to get the application form started. You will need it when you go to the DMV office. You may need to make an appointment. Take your passport and visa papers, student ID, and a bill or bank statement you have received here stating your address here in the U.S. and stamped by the postal service. They accept cash, checks, or debit/credit cards. For more information and how to apply, refer to the Oregon State ID handout in the "My FOLDER" link here.

Applying for a Social Security Card

The Social Security card show your Social Security Number - SSN. International students are not legally able to get a social security number/card unless they are working in the U.S. Officially, the social security number is used for employment and tax purposes so it is not required for things like renting an apartment, getting a cell phone, etc. It may be requested but, if you aren't eligible for one, ask if they will accept other ID. If you are offered a job, you are eligible to apply for a Social Security card. Your Social Security Number is a unique 9-digit number that will be your number permanently- even if you leave the U.S. and return later. It is used for employment, tax purposes, and many other situations as an identification number.

A Social Security card is NOT permission to work in the United States. There are certain restrictions on employment for international students and you must be authorized for employment in addition to getting a Social Security card. See Chris Andresen, Office of International Education for information about work authorization.

A Social Security number is a powerful number, and if it is given out too freely, it can allow people to access your personal information and can lead to identity theft. Be very cautious about giving out your number online or over the phone. It is also a good idea to shred documents (not your card) that have your number printed on them so that your information is not easily copied or stolen.

For more information and how to apply, refer to the Social Security handout in the "My FOLDER" link here.


If you are here for more than a semester consider opening an account in an American bank so you have easy access to your money without having to pay lots of fees. To open an account take your passport, immigration papers, and Social Security card (if you have one) to the bank or to a credit union.

You can open either a checking account or a savings account (if you are planning on saving money for later). Most accounts automatically come with an ATM/debit card. For some accounts/banks, you may have to ask to get one. If you use your ATM/debit card in the machines at places other than your bank, be aware that you will be likely be charged at least one fee for each transaction. Some ATM cards are also credit cards. Make sure you understand how your card works. Your bank can help you set up a PIN to use your card at ATMs and as a debit card.


Cell Phones

We encourage you to visit company websites and compare your options. We cannot recommend a particular carrier.  Remember to keep the receipts/contracts you receive, especially if you are paying a security deposit.

Most carriers have options for pre-paid or pay-as-you-go service. These usually do not require signing contracts, credit checks or social security numbers. The plans offered will vary depending on the company. These plans allow you to select the amount of money/minutes you would like per month. You can add minutes onto your account as needed. Paying your bill at the beginning of the month or buying minutes as you go will help your budget.

Some of the carriers may also allow you to choose from their post-paid service plans. While these generally require credit checks and the signing of a contract, some companies offer service if you pay a security deposit. Read any contract carefully so you understand what you are paying for each month, how that amount is calculated, and how payment works.

Most carriers will allow you to use your existing phone if it is unlocked and uses a SIM card. If so, you won’t have to buy a phone. Check with the your own phone carrier for options. If this is not an option, there are often deals where you purchase a new phone at a reduced price when starting service with the company.

Willamette University

Office of International Education

Global Learning Center
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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